Never two without three and the third was too many. Led twice by the Hungarians then by the Portuguese, the French have returned to this bad habit not very consistent with a status of world champion and vice-champion of Europe. But against the Swiss who had never passed the round of 16 in a major international competition since 1954, the blue locomotive did not turn the tide after a goal conceded too quickly, followed by an astonishing course punctuated by a few highs. and a lot of stockings.
Would the chief engineer have chosen adulterated coal? Namely a tactical device which seemed to destabilize its players more than the adversaries. This funny three-way defense, with a Clément Lenglet who had not kicked a ball in a match for over a month, a mid-four, an Antoine Griezmman isolated behind his two attackers, Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappé, he there was enough to lose his Latin.
Totally lost in the first half
Transforming Raphaël Varane into full back, Benjamin Pavard into defensive back was it a good idea? In view of the performance of these two totally lost players, the answer is no. Especially since the two usual defensive lungs, N’Golo Kanté and Paul Pogba, deprived of their usual living spaces by the overcrowding of their places, seemed totally absent. They left gaping spaces for the Swiss who were never in a hurry, who were able to quietly develop their attacking game without serious opposition.
Led 1/0, they multiplied the chatter and hesitation instead of trying to plug the holes in an organization frumpy from the start. The lost gazes of the field men in the direction of Didier Deschamps’ bench spoke volumes about the dismay of the world champions. Individually overwhelmed, collectively lost, the world champions returned to the locker room without the solution they were entitled to expect from the boss.
On leaving the locker room, the boss recovered by returning to a more classic device: four players behind with the return of a classic Raphaël Varane-Presnel Kimpembe hinge. And by restoring a middle to four, the two defensive Pogba and Kanté and two offensive Griezmann-Coman.
If Clément Lenglet, largely at fault on the Swiss goal, paid the bill by not returning to the field, Munich’s Kingsley Coman took the left flank, as he knows so well how to do. To wonder if the oracles, who had announced his presence from the start, should not have been listened to by a Didier Deschamps for once obviously deaf.
We thought that the Blues had hit the bottom, but the worst was to come, with an opportunity missed by a hair by the Swiss and a penalty awarded to the Swiss, stopped by a Hugo Lloris uncomfortable in this kind of stops. Like a captain straightening his boat lying down by bad winds, the French keeper put his sailors back in the right direction. And suddenly, the proud blue sailors boarded, carried by their suddenly found attack trio.
Pushed to overtime
For about twenty minutes, the Blues have justified their world crown. Antoine Griezmann reappeared at the poop, just like Karim Benzema, author of two pure scorer actions, an acrobatic recovery and a stung ball, followed by a header cutting the trajectory of a Griezmann shot. All completed by a shot in the top corner of Paul Pogba.
After being led, jostled, the Blues were three feet ahead in the quarterfinals. Before being again surprised defensively, twice, and ending up in overtime with a score of 3-3, like the Spaniards and the Croats in the other round of 16 of the evening (qualification of the Spaniards on a score of 5- 3).
What could still happen during this crazy night of football? The ball was in the court of 22 tired players, won by cramps, their minds paralyzed by the stake, even if the two coaches both brought in new men. The Blues pushed to avoid the penalty shootout, the Swiss delayed, no doubt more confident in their goalkeeper in the exercise.
And so we found ourselves in front of the fateful moment that all football fans appreciate when their team is not concerned. The Swiss shot and scored the first, Paul Pogba, so bright throughout the game, followed. All the shooters fulfilled their role perfectly until Kylian Mbappé, tenth shooter in the series; the worst job has yet been verified since the Parisian missed his shot.
For the first time in the history of the Nati, Switzerland is in the quarterfinals of a major competition and the French are out. We will talk for a long time about a missed penalty, the first hitch in a career so far without blemish, but we will especially have to come back to the tactical choice of a coach for once ill-inspired.